human rights

Google Grows a Pair

I’ve long disapproved of American companies’ willingness to go along with oppressive regimes’ human rights abuses. Some companies have given information on dissidents to governments and helped in the apprehension of political prisoners. This has attracted significant attention over the years, both in the media and in Congressional inquiries.

For years, Google has censored search results on their Chinese domain, Google.cn, in an effort to keep their site from being blocked by the “Great Firewall of China,” which blocks access to countless sites on an unpublished Government blacklist.

Today, Google made public their findings of targeted malicious break-ins to Google accounts of various activists for Chinese human rights, both within China, and in the U.S. and Europe. The attacks weren’t exclusive to Google, but widespread across other major companies.

Amazingly, after finding this, Google has made the decision to fight back and stop participating in China’s self-censorship mandates:

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

I applaud this policy decision by Google. It’s a shame that American companies benefit so often from doing their business in ways that support corrupt governments, and our own country should do more to prevent it from happening to others.

China is growing and has the potential to improve the quality of life for people worldwide, but it has some very disturbing issues that it needs to address as it matures

The US has Quit the Human Rights Council.

In case you missed it, the United States withdrew from the Human Rights Council yesterday.

But Eric Sottas, director of the International Organisation against Torture sees it as a a political gesture. “The US has always clearly shown its opposition to the Council. This is a slightly more public way of putting pressure on it in order to raise the stakes. What is more the Bush dynasty is coming to the end of its mandate,” he said. “It reminds me of the time when the Nixon administration, which backed Pinochet in Chile, chastized the UN for criticising the Chilean dictator. But when Carter was elected in 1977, the American government took the floor at the Human Rights Commission to ask forgiveness. After a presidency like that of Bush, you can expect some important changes in US policy on human right.”

Have we no shame? We are supposed to be a leader in justice, freedom, and humanity. But instead, our leaders seem to be turning this into a rogue state. We are using torture methods invented during the Spanish inquisition, for anyone trying to find comparable acts.

Thankfully both McCain and Obama won’t put up with this. Hopefully they can clean up this mess we’re in, and hopefully it doesn’t get much worse before they take charge.